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I’ve always relied on free (gratis, and libre) text editors for programming. The first real editor I used, and the one I have been using for the longest time, was Emacs. (Of course, I had inherited a .emacs file written by a former grad student at Cornell, C.Y. Tan, when I was there as an undergrad that made Emacs behave like WordStar (history), a word processor that I used a lot for a project while in high school. I still remembered all the keystrokes.) Then, being a sysadmin, I had to learn vi (or a recent incarnation called vim), which I still use for quick editing jobs.

When I switched to Mac OS X, I still used Emacs. They had a version that was built with the Mac OS Carbon libraries, so it behaved somewhat like a Mac program. My WordStar bindings, however, remained in effect. Then I tried some other free editors, finally settling on Smultron. The two features that convinced me to use it were single-window editing, and the concept of a “project”, i.e. a set of files that were logically grouped together.

I’ve used BBEdit, albeit the older version that came free with my TiBook, but I was never too thrilled by it. Then I tried TextMate, and I got hooked. I resisted buying it for a couple of months.

I also got Eclipse -- a full-featured IDE, not just an editor -- working on the Linux box on my desk at work, but it was a bit too slow on my laptop. It’s great, though. Especially if you have to deal with someone else’s code: it has all these automatic refactoring tools, plus documentation of libraries pop up when you hover the cursor over a symbol.

So, I bit the bullet this afternoon, and paid for TextMate because I was getting frustrated with Smultron’s syntax highlighting, for one thing. And I was pining for some of the IDEish features that TextMate has: smart completion, templates, etc. It takes a lot for me to pay for software because I am so used to using free software (both gratis and libre). I paid for ecto, which is what I use to blog. And a couple of other things that I needed for work. Oh, and Mac OS X updates, though I have held off from Tiger. Anyway, I think €39 ($50) wasn’t too bad a price.

In other news, the show is coming together. I love seeing all the separate bits coalescing to form a complete show.

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